The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Saturday, February 28, 2009

More classic structures for American OO

As a follow-up to the long post on Skyline, there were a number of other makers that made structures for use on American OO gauge layouts.

To kick things off, here is another beautiful structure kit built up by Ed Havens, an Ideal Wayside Diner. I will come back to Ideal at the end of this article.

A really intriguing first item I would like to mention is the Nason cast aluminum station and locomotive or car shed! These they list in advertisements in 1934. True OO structure kits, they must be very rare but also there must be a few around somewhere. Anyone have one? And they also briefly in 1947 marketed the Westchester line of OO kits (more below).

With that, quite a few makers besides Skyline and Nason and Ideal marketed OO or HO-OO structure kits. In alphabetical order others that I have found include:

Gerstner of New York City had out a water tower kit in "OO Gage" in 1938 (more information in this article).

Little Gem Models of Dayton, OH, in the pre-war period offered these HO/OO buildings: barber shop, coal yard, factory, filling station, greenhouse, ice cream parlor, power plant, three story bank, and a watch tower.

Maxwell Hobby Shops of Oakland, CA, from 1939-WW II offered these wood building kits in HO/OO: old grist mill and water wheel, switch tower and tool shed, express office, freight and passenger station, Q P bar, roundhouse (brick, 4 stall, with turntable), log cabin, old Dutch windmill, freight sheds (SP), rural station, Otis trading post, pioneer store, school house, gold nugget dance hall (2 story, brick), modern store, cottage, barn, church, mine. These were all offered in O gauge as well as what they called HO and OO. Also, this line of buildings was sold by Scale-Craft, illustrated and listed clearly in the Fall, 1939 (vol. 2, no. 2) of their Blow-Smoke newsletter. For more on that and a look at a Maxwell kit see this article.

A. Misenar of Brooklyn, ca. 1940-41, sold wood HO/OO structure kits that included a coaling station, ice house, and water tower.

Model Railroad Equipment Corp. of New York, NY, from 1942 into the post war era sold HO/OO building kits and scenery details (also marketed under Rail Chief name) including chick sale, a wood coaling station, a hot dog stand (finished), shoe shine stand (finished), and water tower.

Multi Way ca. 1940-41 marketed a station in HO/OO that included a glass top shed, administration bldg. and tower.

Scale Construction Co. of Rumford, RI, ca. 1938 offered a line of eight building kits.

Star-Line Models of Ft. Worth, TX, 1945-47 offered the following kits listed as HO, "suitable for OO"--cattle pen, concrete underpass, drilling rig, flowing well, and a timber trestle.

Westchester Model Co. of Mount Vernon, NY, in the post-war era offered these wood and card kits for what were described in their catalog as “Realistic ‘HO’ and ‘OO’ Buildings.” 1--freight station, 2—terminal, 3--roundhouse with boiler house, 5--diesel loco servicing station, 8--butterfly sheds (for terminal), 9--extra roundhouse stalls, 11--coaling station, 12--steam loco sand tower and sand house, 13--timber lined tunnel, 14--sand house, 15--steam loco sand tower, 16--diesel loco sanding installation, and 20--steam loco sand tower. In 1947 Nason marketed these kits; for more see this article.

Windsor Model Railways of Oradell, NJ, from 1946 offered this line of HO/OO kits: WB11 icing plant, yellow; WB12 icing plant, gray; WB13 icing plant, maroon.

Back to the diner at the beginning of this post, it is by Ideal, a company I mentioned briefly in the prior post on Skyline as well. The HOSeeker website has an undated two page flyer for Ideal posted. In the opening text they state,
These Railway accessories are acclaimed by builders everywhere as the most practical ever devised for “HO”. They go together in surprisingly little time. IDEAL kits come to you complete with strong die-cut boards, printed in realistic colors. Cellophane windows, chimney brick paper, full size plans and easy-to-follow instructions all combine to make their construction a real pleasure. No tools or painting are required.
The flyer lists 27 different HO items. It makes no indication that these were HO/OO but their advertisement in the March, 1942 issue of Model Railroader for example says these buildings are “for HO & OO.” While probably really for HO, Ideal also recognized the OO market to a point, and their products were undoubtedly used by OO gaugers as well.

Ed Havens has built a number of these buildings, which he notes he has “updated with contemporary plastic injection molded windows and doors with their cardstock or wood sides laminated to acyrlic sub-forms.” He has prepared an article that will be in an upcoming issue of The OO Road and additionally noted for me that Skyline buildings
were fractionally larger than Ideal buildings which were 1/8" scale. However, Ideal had the most extensive line. A 1952 hobby shop mail order catalog I mentioned in my article for "The OO Road" listed 40 residential, commercial or railroad structure kits. So it's likely that many OO or HO enthusiasts bought them because of quick construction and low prices. A typical Ideal building could be purchased for 50 cents or 85 cents. In the early 1950s, Model Hobbies of New Cumberland, Pa., also was producing kits in 3.5 mm scale but they were a move toward craftsman kits, still simple construction but using milled wood siding and some had crude window castings of die cast metal. A detail note common to Ideal and Skyline was use of cellophane windows with printed muntins to represent the window panes. They were good for the time but in unbuilt kits today the printed sheets -- to be cut out by modelers -- have crinkled from age. Model Hobbies also printed windows on clear plastic sheet but it was heavier material than the cellophane and such window material in unbuilt kits today is generally flat and ready to use.

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